What to do in San Juan del Sur

What's on tap in San Juan del Sur? Well, we counted over 15 easily accessible beaches, most teeming with fish and surf breaks - but a few, like Playa Marsella, perfect for a quiet swim or snorkel.

And although a surfing atmosphere dominates, you don't have to be a pro surfer to enjoy the waves - there are breaks for all levels, from the beginner waves at Remanso to the aggressive barrels at Yankee.

But it's not all about the coast in these parts. The interior has its special moments too. Follow trails on horseback while howler monkeys whoop from the trees, experience a natural high zipping through canopy lines strung through the hills or hike to the lofty Jesus statue for an awe-inspiring view (and get a great work out to boot).

Don't stop there. Travel further; where paved road gives way to rutted track. You can spend days exploring the San Juan del Sur area, dropping in on tiny fishing villages to watch the pelicans dive bomb their prey, volunteering with a community outreach project or pondering the meaning of a petroglyph deep in the forest. Sometimes being in the middle of nowhere is the best place to be.

Then there's the daily spectacle of a fiery tropical sunset fading into another starry night. And all the while the waves keep rolling in - providing the ever present backdrop to life in San Juan del Sur.

There is always something more to see and do in San Juan del Sur. Just check out these amazing activities you can do here. Watch out, you may never get round to going home.

5 Must Do’s Granada

Granada photo credit // Kathy Linch

Granada photo credit // Kathy Linch

The brightly colored buildings, cobblestone streets and historically preserved colonial architecture will capture your eyes the minute you arrive. Central America’s oldest Colonial city is nestled between Lake Nicaragua and Volcan Mombacho, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region.  There’s so many things that will tug at your attention in this city. In no particular order, here’s my top 5 things to do in Granada if you’ve only got a few days to spend. 

1. Eat your heart out at the ChocoMuseo 

Follow your nose to the CocoMuseo (Chocolate museum) inside the Mansion de Chocolate.  The museum style chocolate factory offers “Bean to Bar” chocolate making workshops and full day tours to nearby cacao plantations. Here you can learn about the history of the cacao bean from the Mayans and Aztecs. You’ll also get a chance to break and grind the cacao beans by hand. No trip to the museum is complete without tasting the array of chocolate delicacies on display. From coffee bean chocolate bars to jalapeño infused chocolate sauce, the CocoMuseo is truly a chocolate lovers paradise. 

Granada Cathedral, Nicaragua2. Visit all three major Cathedrals 

It’s not surprising that most people leave the city only having visited the frequently photographed Cathedral of Granada in central park. It’s central location and recently refurbished yellow exterior will draw you in.  However there’s at least two other cathedrals that are beautifully preserved and packed with history all within walking distance of the city center.  La Merced was one of the most revered churches in Granada for almost 300 years until its main tower was destroyed in 1854.  And Iglesia de Guadalupe was once used as a fortress by William Walker in 1856 during the infamous American filibuster. 

3. Buy a hammock at Tio Antonio’s Central Social 

It’s easy to miss the brightly colored hand-woven hammocks in the doorway if you’re just passing through the city.  Step inside and you’ll find hammocks being woven by nearly a dozen people that are deaf and hard of hearing. Tio Antonio’s Central Social sells an incredible variety of swinging chairs and hammocks to suit any size – all hand made by people with impaired hearing. Visitors can learn about the history of the social mission, add their contribution to the largest hammock in history, and try weaving a hammock of their own.  When you’re finished learning and shopping, be sure to grab a bite to eat nextdoor at Cafe de las Sonrisas. The friendly restaurant staff will greet you in sign language and offer ear-plugs to get a feel for their world without sound.  Tio Antonio’s center to empower and employ people people with disabilities is worth going out of your way to visit. 

Granada Isletas, Nicaragua

photo credit // Kathy Linch

4. Cruise the islands on Lake Nicaragua 

There’s an entire water world that exists among the 350+ volcanic formed islands in Lake Nicaragua along the outer edge of Granada. Some islands are getting snatched up by wealthy investors and turned into private estates or boutique hotels with boat only access. Among the “isletas” there’s a local school and a small cemetery too.  Jump on a panga with a local boat captain off the malecon and you’ll quickly see another world unfold where laundry is hand-washed on cement corrugated washboards and fisherman dive with nets. (Note to travelers – Please don’t feed the monkeys, they are dangerously overweight.)

5. Swim in Laguna de Apoyo 

Nicaragua’s deepest swimming hole is actually a water filled crater of the now extinct Apoyo Volcano. The lake is an estimated 200 meters deep and 4 miles in diameter. The dry tropical forest that surrounds the volcanic crater is home to over 500 species of flora and fauna. Indigenous artifacts and petroglyphs have been discovered within it as well.  Nicaragua’s Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA) declared the crater lake a national nature reserve in 1991.  Established resorts and hostels like the Monkey Hut, offer kayaks, inner-tubes and swimming access to floating docks for aspiring travelers and lake lovers.  

Fight Club Gym: Get Fit & Stay Strong

machine-min-1024x708 (1)It’s true that San Juan del Sur’s selection of beach front restaurants, happy hour specials and live music make it difficult to stay in shape and eat healthy. But with the opening of Fight Club Gym, you no longer have an excuse to let your health and fitness slide.  In fact the gym is a meeting ground for the tribe of people in this town who strive for a healthy lifestyle.
[Read more…]

An epic sailing adventure on a “pirate ship” that should be on your bucket list

Sail Nicaragua | photo credit : Two Guys Adventures

“Walk the plank!” my 5 year-old sailing companion yelled at me from across the bow.  It doesn’t take much imagination to escape into a dream world on the newest “pirate ship” in San Juan del Sur’s harbor.

The vessel’s beautifully restored wooden deck, spiral staircase, hand carved rum-shot-sword and giant pirate flag make it easy to see why so many visiting sailors embrace the pirate fantasy on the cruise up Nicaragua’s Pacific coast with Two Guys Adventures. [Read more…]

5 things to do at Hacienda Iguana that don’t involve surfing

Kyle teeing off at Hacienda Iguana

Many surfers visit Hacienda Iguana on the Emerald Coast.

The reason?

The surf breaks at Playa Colorado and Panga Drops are world class and both can be accessed by foot from the development.

But I’ve lived in Nicaragua long enough to know that many visitors are not interested in surfing.

So is Hacienda Iguana still worth a visit?

Oh heck yes!

Here are 5 super fun things to do at Hacienda Iguana that don’t involve surfing.

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The “Surfer’s Guide” To Enjoying San Juan del Sur (Even if You’re Not A Surfer)

I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

Surfing is one of the major attractions of the San Juan del Sur area.

But while I’m sure that many of you reading this do enjoy surfing, there will also be a group of you who have no interest in surfing at all.

Don’t worry, whatever your relationship to surfing, you’re in the right spot.

Here’s your “Surfer’s Guide” to enjoying San Juan del Sur – whether you’re a great surfer, you’re just starting out or you’re not interested in surfing at all.
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Are you missing out on the best ways to experience San Juan’s stunning coastline?

Sailing

After visiting San Juan del Sur for more than a decade, I’ve learned that there’s no better way to experience this stunning coastline than from the ocean.

I find that sitting on a boat, feeling the wind in my hair and gazing at the unfolding shoreline is enough to renew my love for San Juan del Sur. But you can kick your experience up a notch by adding something extra. Here are three ideas: [Read more…]

San Juan del Sur’s Most Magical Sunsets

Sunset San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua // photo credit: Sanjuandelsur.org

It’s the last hour of daylight. Locals carry their wooden rocking chairs onto the sidewalk, whole families come out for a leisurely stroll along the beachfront, and people gather in their favorite watering holes for a sun-downer.

For a long glorious moment everything glows with fiery shades of pink, yellow and orange.

Yes, sunsets are a cliché. But, however clichéd, everyone seems to agree that the sunsets in San Juan del Sur are spectacular.

Maybe it’s the hazy silhouettes of the cliffs that bookmark the bay, or the way the boats bob about in the currents of lights, or perhaps how the evening clouds seem to arrive at exactly the right moment. Whatever it is, watching the sun slowly dip into the ocean makes for an addictive ritual.

You can’t go wrong with the sunset here, but there are some locations that are particularly good. Here are three of the best spots to savor it: [Read more…]

Where You’d Rather Be

Surf Retreats in Nicaragua | Photo by Ale Romo

Surf Retreats in Nicaragua | Photo by Ale Romo

Around here Mark and Dave’s surf lodge has become synonymous with surfer’s paradise.  Add to that daily yoga classes, a gourmet vegan certified chef, two guided sunset meditation sessions and a trip album of professional photos and you get a “From Where You’d Rather Be Retreat”.

I’ve visited Ale Romo’s home surf break in San Sebastian, Spain and attended her Nicaragua Chill, Surf & Yoga retreat in 2014. I can say with confidence and experience that there’s something special about the combination of passionate professionals that she brings together to host surf retreats in breathtaking places.  

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The Art is in the Streets

San Juan del Sur isn’t exactly known for its booming art scene.  But what it lacks in art galleries it makes up for in brightly painted homes, wall murals and creatively decorated storefronts.  Walk through the streets and you’ll see signs of artistic expression on just about every block.

So keep your eyes peeled and mind open.  This is one creative town.  Here are a few of our favorites…

Gato Negro

El Gato Negro

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How To Get Awesome Deals In San Juan del Sur

deals-and-coupons-san-juanAt the end of last year we produced our first deal directory full of awesome deals on quality products and services.

It’s really taken off and we’ve been receiving more coupons, getting requests for more deals and hearing great feedback from our subscribers.

So we’re releasing another edition… that’s bigger and better.

Subscriber Bonus: Get a free copy of the latest [OptinLink id=14] Deal Directory[/OptinLink] and save money in San Juan del Sur.

Here’s what you need to know:

What

The Deal Directory is available free to our subscribers. It’s packed with hand-picked deals and coupons so that you can save on the best places to eat, drink, get active & have fun in San Juan del Sur.

Who

Flip open the Deal Directory and you’ll find deals on local hotels, restaurants, legal services, yoga, babysitting, Spanish lessons, spa services, canopy tours, fishing tips, surf rentals and more…

The deals are from great local businesses run by local residents passionate about providing the best products and services. (If you are a local business that wants to offer deals, contact us here.)

Why

If you’ve read The Insider Guide you’ll know that we want to do our bit to help put quality Cialis reviews del Sur on the map. That’s not only because spending locally helps strengthen the local economy and community, but because it also gives you a more direct and authentic experience of this sunny corner of the world.

How

Here’s the link to download the bigger, better and shinier San Juan Live Deal Directory.